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Coriolanus Scenes

Scene 4

Rome. A public place.

(Menenius; Sicinius; First Messenger; Third Messenger)

Menenius has little hope that the ladies will succeed. Sicinius is warned that the mob is planning to tear the two tribunes to pieces if peace is not made. A messenger comes with the news that the ladies have prevailed and that Rome is saved. (45 lines)

Enter Menenius and Sicinius.


See you yond coign a’ th’ Capitol, yond cornerstone?


Why, what of that?


If it be possible for you to displace it with your little finger, there is some hope the ladies of Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with him. But I say there is no hope in’t; our throats are sentenc’d, and stay upon execution.


Is’t possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a man?


There is differency between a grub and a butterfly, yet your butterfly was a grub. This Martius is grown from man to dragon: he has wings, he’s more than a creeping thing.


He lov’d his mother dearly.


So did he me; and he no more remembers his mother now than an eight-year-old horse. The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes. When he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before his treading. He is able to pierce a corslet with his eye, talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. He sits in his state, as a thing made for Alexander. What he bids be done is finish’d with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity and a heaven to throne in.


Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.


I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his mother shall bring from him. There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger, that shall our poor city find. And all this is long of you.


The gods be good unto us!


No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto us. When we banish’d him, we respected not them; and, he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.

Enter Third Messenger.

3. MESS.

Sir, if you’ld save your life, fly to your house.

The plebeians have got your fellow tribune,

And hale him up and down, all swearing, if

The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,

They’ll give him death by inches.

Enter First Messenger.


What’s the news?

1. MESS.

Good news, good news! The ladies have prevail’d,

The Volscians are dislodg’d, and Martius gone.

A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,

No, not th’ expulsion of the Tarquins.



Art thou certain this is true? Is’t most certain?

1. MESS.

As certain as I know the sun is fire.

Where have you lurk’d, that you make doubt of it?

Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,

As the recomforted through th’ gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets, hoboys, drums beat, all together.

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,

Tabors and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,

Make the sun dance. Hark you!

A shout within.


This is good news.

I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia

Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,

A city full; of tribunes such as you,

A sea and land full. You have pray’d well today.

This morning for ten thousand of your throats

I’d not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!

Sound still with the shouts.


First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,

Accept my thankfulness.

1. MESS.

Sir, we have all

Great cause to give great thanks.


They are near the city?

1. MESS.

Almost at point to enter.


We’ll meet them

And help the joy.



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